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We are delighted to present this year's Non-GMO Project gift giving guide! 

This year, there's no shortage of ways to think outside the big box store — from crafty, DIY options to one-of-a-kind gifts from local vendors. And of course, there are many online options, including a wealth of BIPOC-owned companies (it's well worth the effort to seek out and support BIPOC-owned businesses).

Here are a few of our favorite items for the season.

For the non-GMO enthusiast 🦋

Is your loved one a proud supporter of the non-GMO movement? Help them show off their Butterfly love with this limited print Butterfly Biodiversity Bandana. Made from 100% certified organic cotton and eco-friendly ink.

French press coffee and a cupCoffee & chocolate: Two great tastes that taste great together 

Holiday gifts don't need to be glitzy — We love thoughtful gifts that brighten each and every day. Here’s an idea: Help the coffee enthusiast in your life upgrade their game with a french press! These practical, personal bean-brewers offer elegant designs and great-tasting joe.

You can bundle up by adding some Non-GMO Project Verified and Fair Trade Certified coffee beans and chocolate. Learn more about Fair Trade certification, including how we work together, here.

DIY and local are the bee's knees

Have you ever made your own beeswax candles? Beeswax naturally gives off a slightly sweet scent, equal parts delicate and comforting. Follow these online tutorials to turn Non-GMO Project Verified beeswax into unique, sustainable gifts. Or, leave it to the experts and purchase beeswax candles from local vendors in your area. 

In the mood for something sweet? Try honey in its rawest form! Get Non-GMO Project Verified honeycomb for a gift to remember over the holidays.

Plants growing in glass beakersGifts for plant lovers (from minimalist to ambitious)

If you're already a plant lover, holidays are an excellent opportunity to share some plant joy with a friend. Create a trendy minimalist gift by sharing cuttings of plants you already have. Gift the cuttings in a simple glass container. Add extra flair with a handwritten note with plant care instructions. 

Or create a world in a jar with a handmade terrarium. Gardening-under-glass provides access to a range of new plants and creative opportunities that couldn't thrive in normal indoor conditions. Plus, you and your loved one can pretend you're giants.  

'Tis the season to be cozy!
Indigenous-owned company Indigo Arrows creates high-quality textiles based on timeless designs. Peruse the gift boxes or splurge on a unique family heirloom such as the Grandmother Moon Quilt

You can search for Non-GMO Project Verified products on our website, here. Remember to support small businesses this holiday season, and check out craft fairs in your community. We wish you a very happy holiday season!

Holiday Gifts

It's been quite a year. Of course it's not over yet: Chronologically we still have a few weeks left. When this whole "New Normal" started in the spring, it was heavy on the new and light on the normal. As we head into winter, the barometer has changed — and this holiday season could well reshape more of our traditions.

There is a strange freedom in this newness — a chance to rewrite the script of the holidays. December is usually a hectic switcheroo of a month: Time off from work and school is populated with a dramatic uptick in to-do lists and social engagements. The formula is different this year. How can we balance our need to connect with the travel that we don't take? How can the novelty of new approaches shake up our holidays? With festivities curtailed, we have more time to reflect on what our dearest relationships mean to us — and the opportunity to show it in unique ways.

That's a 2020 holiday.

Give a helping hand

If you find yourself with more time than money, a little help can go a long way.

Books worth sharing

I don't know about you, but after months of doomscrolling my attention span is that of a badly concussed fruit fly. Books that managed to break even the most dense brian fog are treasures indeed. Be sure to reach out to your local bookstore for these and other great reads.

Purchase with a purpose

If you're looking for more substantial holiday gifts, we encourage you to support small and local businesses as much as possible. There are also online options for amazing wares from BIPOC-owned businesses that prioritize environmentally responsible production. A good rule of thumb is "buy less, buy quality, buy with purpose." The following resources pass that bar beautifully.

The wrap-up

Whatever your giving choices this year, give a thought to the packaging. My personal pet peeve is fancy wrapping paper that can't be recycled. I inwardly cringe at the hills of discarded metallic paper and associated plastic ribbons. To turn that frown upside down, consider these alternatives.

Hopefully this list has provided some new takes on timely traditions. Or maybe it's a jumping off point, inspiring you to branch out in an entirely new direction (in which case, please share it with us if you feel so inclined! We're always looking for new ideas to celebrate and connect.) From all of us at the Non-GMO Project, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season, and all the time in the coming years to spend with your loved ones.

This is the in-between time. A one week lull between holiday blow-outs 1 and 2. While our individual traditions and beliefs may vary, some persistent themes dominate the season: we gather indoors with friends and family, and we eat. There is power in that simple act. Regardless of the Happy Holidays and Merry Whatevers, there is real magic in coming together for a meal.

“One” is the Hungriest Number

Modern life is full of contradictions. Social media breaks down boundaries while simultaneously reinforcing loneliness and alienation. Urban living pushes people away from each other in ways that defy reason. After years of living in apartments, I think they should be renamed “together-ments.” Wouldn’t that be more accurate? I learned my neighbors’ sleep schedules, favorite music, and way more than I wanted to know about their relationship issues. Yet we rarely shared meals. There was something about being packed so tightly together that made me yearn for a bit of psychic breathing space. I wonder if there might’ve been a better way, if each of us in our galley-style kitchen, silently consuming takeout, wouldn’t have preferred to be together, really together, at least once in a while. Might we have been more nourished if we joined forces to eat? If we knew each other’s names, anecdotes, and favorite side dishes? 

The research says yes: People who share meals with others are more likely to feel better about themselves, to have better support systems and broader social networks (real social networks — not the kind fashioned from 1s and 0s). They are healthier, happier, more trusting, and more engaged in their communities. Eating is one of a suite of activities that cause our brains to release hormones that drive happiness and social bonding. Laughing, singing, and dancing are also on the list. It is human nature to join together for food and merriment, and the practice crosses boundaries of culture, time, and place. It is what we do.

Do You Smell What I Smell?

When we gather around traditional foods and cherished family recipes, how do our senses and brains process the experience? Turns out it’s not all a matter of taste. Much of the heavy lifting of tasting is actually done by your sense of smell! Our taste buds have a shockingly limited vocabulary, able to perceive flavors you could count on one hand: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory. How can five puny categories take in the cornucopia of flavors we encounter in a lifetime? Luckily our extraordinary sense of smell reveals the delicacies and nuances that surround us, exponentially increasing our ability to enjoy whatever we choose to sip, slurp, and sup upon.

Each one of us has millions of scent receptors in our nose and throat, capable of perceiving all sorts of stimuli. Their power is heightened during winter — scents don’t travel as far in cold, dry air. Our noses work overtime to pick up information, both for evolutionary advantage and so they don’t fall off from sheer boredom.

Have you ever come across the scent of baking cookies, or a familiar flower, and found yourself overcome by a distant memory? You aren’t alone. Scent is intricately linked not only to our ability to taste, but also to remember. Those millions of smell receptors send information directly to the amygdala and the hippocampus, areas of the brain where our most potent memories and emotions are stored. Information gathered by the other senses, such as sight, touch, and hearing, don’t travel this pathway. They go somewhere else to be considered and analysed for awhile. Not smells, though: they are marked “URGENT — Highest Priority!” Our response to them is immediate and visceral. They have the power to take us back to the time and place we originally encountered them, so strong are the associations.

Snack to the Future

Which brings us back to the holidays. Ideally, we feast, laugh, and sing surrounded by loved ones — people with whom we are already bonded, or new relationships in their first bloom. But if you are old enough to be reading this, chances are there are some gaps. That’s how it goes: We can’t spend the holidays with everyone we’ve ever loved. Too often, we are separated by time, distance, and mortality. Luckily, we have all these magical foods.

Personally, I have my family’s shortbread recipe, the subtle sweetness of the dough, the colossal amount of butter melting with the warmth of my hands as it is kneaded for no less than 20 minutes. I uphold my mother’s tradition of smoked fish, a heavy and pungent scent cut by the sharpness of lemon zest and pickled capers. And this year I was deputized as the bringer of the mashed potato casserole. I can’t mix up a batch without vividly recalling the time I plunged my 11-year-old elbow into the same casserole right before Mum’s guests arrived for the meal. There is a new generation with whom to share these dishes. We gather, eat, and laugh. While all my loved ones aren't able to be here, at least our favorite foods are, and for a moment, my hippocampus is blissfully unaware of the difference. 

We wish a warm and zesty New Year to you, your community, your loved ones, and to the dishes and scents that tie us all together!

ngpfamilyphoto2016_snowfalkes

At this time 10 years ago, I was volunteering full-time to create a new non-profit organization called the Non-GMO Project. Our small group working on the effort had given up hope that government would ever give consumers the information they need to know about GMOs. Meanwhile, we saw that shoppers were increasingly concerned about GMOs and looking for non-GMO options. We reasoned that since there was a market for non-GMO, producers would create a supply for it—they just needed a system for doing so. It wouldn’t be easy or quick, but we felt confident that a market-based strategy was our best hope for preserving and building a non-GMO food supply and giving consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Fast forward a decade—after the events of this past year, it seems clearer than ever that we can’t count on the government to protect consumer interests when it comes to GMOs. In the wake of federal legislation that has effectively ended any hope of meaningful, mandatory GMO labeling in the United States, the Non-GMO Project Butterfly has become more important than ever.

The Non-GMO Project's rigorous Standard is the only non-GMO claim backed by third-party verification and ongoing testing of major, high-risk ingredients. We have also led the industry by precluding products of synthetic biology and other new forms of genetic engineering like gene editing. As the technology changes faster than ever, the Non-GMO Project’s nimbleness, integrity and technical focus continue to imbue the Butterfly with unparalleled trustworthiness.

As a non-profit organization, we count on public support to help us do our work. We are a small but mighty team—less than 30 staff members manage our Standard development, oversee the Technical Administrators that verify products to our Standard and coordinate all of our outreach and education programs. I’m proud to share the following notable accomplishments of our impact:

As we launch into 2017, I hope you will consider supporting the work of the Non-GMO Project with a donation. Your generosity will help us continue to lead the way in protecting and educating the public so that we have a non-GMO food supply for future generations.

From all of us at the Non-GMO Project, we thank you deeply for your partnership in building a non-GMO future and we look forward to another year of collaboration.

Best wishes for a wonderful new year!megan

Megan Westgate, Executive Director

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